Writing Courses

The Writing Center Advisory Committee is responsible for certifying courses to meet the writing requirement. No course may offer WR sections without the approval of this committee. For further information, contact Dean Alfred Guy.

Guidelines for Writing Courses

Courses that fulfill the writing requirement must include the following elements.

Basic logistics

  • A total of 15-25 pages of graded writing required for the semester.
  • Two or more graded writing assignments.
  • Writing assignments that count, cumulatively, for 25% or more of the final course grade.
  • WR Seminars are limited to 20 students; WR sections led by TFs are limited to 15 students.

Pedagogical Elements

  • Instructor feedback on writing, with opportunities to put suggestions into practice. This feedback might be on a series of papers that build on each other, or through feedback on early drafts revised for a grade.
  • Time spent teaching writing in class throughout the semester.
  • A discussion of writing goals on the syllabus.

Course Feedback and Review

  • All WR courses must add a custom question to the student evaluations that asks: “What have you learned about writing in this course that you can use in your future writing at Yale?”
  • New WR courses will be reviewed after one year; recurring courses will be reviewed again very five years. Faculty will be asked to provide such materials as writing prompts, examples of feedback, and student comments on course evaluations.

In these guidelines "writing" means both style and substance. The College has designed the WR requirement to integrate teaching writing and teaching subject matter in our courses; we honor this integration by teaching students not only to write better prose, but also to argue well, work with evidence, and explore problems appropriate to our subjects. In teaching students to write, we teach them to create knowledge and to communicate effectively.

Most WR courses are seminars taught without teaching fellows. Courses with TFs are subject to some additional requirements, and may be limited based on available TF allocations. Please note that Teaching Fellows for WR lecture courses must be trained by the Writing Center and will normally be permitted to teach only one section per term.